Lessons from Peanut Butter (“ASAP” Branding Strategy)

You may be wondering why every brand needs to own a word in the mind of consumers. Let me illustrate with peanut butter – Jif peanut butter, to be specific. For decades, television ads for the Jif brand ended with the tagline, “Choosy Mothers Choose Jif.” Obviously, the branding strategists behind Jif hoped to associate this word “choosy” with their peanut butter. (Notice how superior product quality is implied, not stated, through use of the folksy term, “choosy.”) Today, Jif’s tagline remains virtually unchanged. Talk about a successful branding strategy: Jif has been the leading peanut butter brand in the United States for over 27 years.

All of which leads me to discuss what I like to call “A.S.A.P. Branding.” “A.S.A.P.” is both an acronym and an adjective: not only does each letter stand for a key component to your branding platform (e.g., “A” = “Advantage”), it also refers to the speed and efficiency with which you can successfully gain brand traction using these simple guidelines. I created the ASAP Brand Test to help businesses develop a brand or design a business logo quickly and efficiently. The test includes four simple steps, and when these steps are tackled strategically and specifically, a business can feel confident that they have the necessary foundation to develop a successful brand.

Here’s the “A.S.A.P.” branding model in a nutshell:

A = Advantage (Content of your Message)
S = Style (Style of your Message)
A = Adjective (Verbal Cue to your Message.)
P = PMS Color (Visual Cue to your Message.)

Please see my previous “A.S.A.P.” articles for a discussion on “Advantage” and “Style.” Read on for more information on “Adjective.”

What’s Your Adjective?

Like Jif, your goal is to select one word to associate with your product in the minds of your consumer. The adjective you select should be based on the competitive advantage your brand offers – essentially, it’s your advantage boiled down to one word. Preferably, your adjective should be distinctive (unique or uncommon), compelling, and easy to understand.

For example, in my first article on “A.S.A.P. Branding,” I suggested the hypothetical advantage statement: “Prodo Products provides Fortune 500 corporations with the highest-quality printers providing fast document printing to increase business efficiencies.” Using this example, “quality” might be the first “adjective” that comes to mind. But “quality” is neither unique nor interesting (compelling). Instead, consider a synonym of “quality” that more specifically describes your products and evokes emotion or incites action. The more specific you are, the more unique your adjective will be and the more your brand will stand out against the competition’s. Choose only one adjective for your brand platform, but also create a list of synonyms for that adjective.

Remember, the adjective component of “A.S.A.P.” branding is directly related to what you are promising your customers. It’s a “bite-sized” way to communicate what they can expect from your brand vs. competing products and services. It would be wonderful if customers spent the time to memorize comprehensive advantage statements – features, benefits, and all – but that’s not going to happen. Instead, use the advantage statement you create for your brand to guide your selection of that one key word: your adjective.

I highly recommend that you use the adjective you select in your tagline (like Jif did).  Salt your headlines with the adjective as well.  However, to avoid redundancy, choose synonyms for your adjective when you are writing body copy. You may grow tired of the word, but your customers will not. Frequency is a key component of branding. Keep pointing your message in the direction of your advantage, and customers will get the message.

Your adjective may also impact the tone of your copy. For example, “choosy” calls for a casual and relaxed voice, while “premium” would probably require a more formal tone. Consider your price and audience. While “choosy” works when selling a common household item, it wouldn’t be a good choice for selling sports cars.

Author Note: John Williams is Founder and President of LogoGarden.com. Article originally published on Entrepreneur.com

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